Jeff Judy

Jeff's Thoughts - January 9, 2008

Market or Markets?

When you talk about where your customers come from, how you generate revenue, do you talk about your market or your markets (plural)? Looking at the niches or sub-markets in your area could be the key to efficiently boosting your market share and profitability.

Other types of businesses know this well. After all, you live in a particular radio market, where many radio stations broadcast to the same area. Although they overlap geographically, they are focused on sub-markets: your local talk radio, classic rock, and country/western stations may all be very successful. They have learned to reach specific audiences, to use the appropriate language and style to deliver what those segments want.

At the same time, perhaps a couple of those stations are owned by the same company. They can be highly efficient because they apply the same basic tools and processes to different segments of the population. The fundamentals of radio are constant across formats: getting a signal on the air and maintaining equipment, scheduling programming, selling advertising, managing on-air personalities. The focus on niche becomes apparent in the content and style delivered to target audiences, in what they say and how they say it.

For a financial services analogy, consider the Baby Boomers in your service area, the rapidly growing segment of the population that is at or nearing retirement.

As their lives change, they are thinking about, and talking about, different needs, different desires. Can you speak their language? Do you have products that fit their needs? Do you present information in ways that make them comfortable?

Baby Boomer demographics affect almost every region and community, but take a close look at your marketplace to find other niches that you could talk to. Are there a lot of faculty and students in colleges and universities near you? Is your community drawing larger and larger numbers of immigrants coming to work in manufacturing and services? Are a lot of local businesses based on a cyclical tourism cycle? Do you market to women effectively?

Like the radio company with several stations, if you can learn to speak in several "tongues," you can pick up a larger share of each of those sub-markets. This is an efficient, economical approach to attracting more customers and more business. Most of your operations remain the same, but your staff (and your marketing materials) gain the ability to focus on subsets of needs and interests that will put you on the right "frequency" to improve "reception" among your prospects.

When you think about expanding market share, don't think about your market. Devise strategies for several markets, and success in those individual segments will provide the overall growth you are looking for.